Change in Class: Paragould Considering Theme Schools

PARAGOULD, AR -- School administrators are looking at the possibilities of transforming the three Paragould elementary schools into theme schools. After touring different schools in the state, both charter schools and magnet schools, Paragould is looking at doing what they call "theme schools" which is a different kind of school with the same basic principal: helping children excel.

"We're in the initial stages.  We've made two trips, one to Batesville and one to Hot Springs.  We have involved parents, board members, teachers, patrons, and administrators," said Paragould School District Superintendent Dr. Aaron Hosman.

The Paragould School District is home to three elementary schools:  Baldwin, Woodrow Wilson, and Oak Grove.  When thinking of ways to make their schools better, the idea of a theme came forward.

"We have three good elementary schools today.  We're just trying to take the next step and become a little better," said Hosman.

Tracy Brengard is one of the parents that made the trip and she's also a member of the school board.

"I got to see all kinds of things.  I was really impressed.  I saw children taking ballet classes, playing violin, taking music lessons and when I saw it I thought how great it would be if we could do it here in Paragould," said Brengard.

"I see a lot of great opportunities for the children.  I see great things they might not have been exposed to otherwise," said Angela McBride.

They are in the preliminary stages of the decision, but Hosman says they have looked at what themes might be implemented.

"Some of the ones we've looked wellness, nutrition, performing arts, aeronautics, math and science," said Hosman.

What is most important to everyone involved in making this decision and doing the research are the students.

"The theme must reinforce our core curriculum.  We have to guarantee to all parents that regardless of what school their child attends that the core curriculum will be the same at all three schools ," said Hosman.

"At the end of the day, what we try to do is do what's best for kids and I think that doing a theme school or a  magnet school is going to help with that," said Brengard.